BC Hydro Puntledge River system update: extra water to be released due to storm

February 16, 2017

From Stephen Watson at BC Hydro, Wednesday February 15, 2017:

The storm currently hitting the Puntledge River watershed has increased the amount of water coming into the Comox Lake reservoir. In response, we plan to increase downstream river flows tonight to control the reservoir level.

About 70 mm of precipitation has fallen in the upper watershed since the storm started on Tuesday afternoon, or over a 24 hour period, with more rain on the way into Thursday. There has also been some snowmelt with higher temperatures.

The Comox Lake reservoir has risen about 20 cm in response and it will continue to rise for the duration of the storm. The reservoir is currently at  133.6 metres.

BC Hydro plans to increase the water discharge below the Comox dam down the Puntledge River from 26 m3/s to 70 m3/s beginning tonight. Early Saturday morning, to benefit kayakers, we will increase the water release from the dam to 90 m3/s during daylight hours through Sunday. This will provide the kayaking community with good kayak conditions. Only experienced kayakers should enter the river, and ideally coordinated through the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society. 

We advise the public to stay away from the Puntledge River from Wednesday night through Tuesday morning.  By Tuesday morning, should the weather and our water inflow forecast hold, the reservoir level is expected to be around 134 metres. Water freespills over the dam at 135.33 metres, so there is storage room to absorb higher inflows.

There is no downstream flood risk. If needed, as downstream and unregulated rivers may rise, we will reduce discharges from the Comox dam during the high tides. This may not be needed as the daily high tide heights are currently trending downward over the week.

Water supply forecast

BC Hydro’s February to September water supply forecast is in. Each month the forecast will be updated with the best gauge on how the summer water abundance conditions may be would be the May forecast update. The snowpack will have peaked by then. For now, the water supply forecast to September is forecasted to be 92% of normal, with a variation of 16% should it be dry or wet. The snowpack in the upper watershed is currently slightly below normal.